Stockton, Calif. – The Pacific Tigers clinched at least a part of the America East Conference West Division with a 2-1, shootout, win over the California Golden Bears Wednesday afternoon. The win moves Pacific's record to 10-6 overall and 4-1 in conference. The Tigers will finish out the regular season on Friday at 6:00 pm with a game against the Stanford Cardinal. If Pacific wins that game, they will finish the season in sole possession of first place in the West Division.
The Tigers avoided an early deficit when two Cal goals were waved off for infractions by the Golden Bears. Pacific came right back down and scored not much later, only to have that goal waved off as well.
Undeterred, Pacific went on to score the game's first goal off a corner at 33:06, giving them the lead at halftime. Rylee Comeau sent the ball in to Malia Robertson, who stopped it for Savannah Burns. Burns' shot zipped under the pads of a diving Kori Griswold for Burns' seventh goal of the season.
Sidney Brooks came close to creating a goal several times early in the second half. Brooks began the half with a breakaway chance, only to have Griswold come out of her net and knock the ball away before Brooks could gain control. A cross from Ali Campos later in the half also nearly found Brooks just in front of the goal, only to have the ball bounce under her stick under defensive pressure.
A giveaway in front of the net in the second half allowed Cal to tie the game. Melina Moore scored the unassisted goal after stealing the ball at the goalmouth at 51:17.
The game would remain tied for the rest of regulation, with both teams fighting hard to create chances. Head Coach Andy Smith was impressed with both teams, saying that "we put a great product on the field…we dominated the game, we could have won 6-1 but they took advantage of the chances they got…Cal has tremendous talent on that team."
The Tigers were able to control the ball for most of the game, ending with 24 shots in the game to Cal's 10. Burns came close to scoring again in double overtime, beating the goalie but sending her shot just wide of the post.
Cal had a dangerous chance as the second overtime ended with two consecutive corners. The Tigers stood tall defensively and fought off the opportunities, allowing no shots before clearing the ball to send the game to penalty strokes.
Cal's Paula Seibt scored on the first penalty stroke, giving the Golden Bears their only converted shot in the shootout. Smith praised Pacific's Laura Pujade, saying that she "put in some great saves…under pressure we've done an incredible job." Pujade made five saves in the game as well as three more in the shootout.
After a miss to start the shootout from Pacific, the Tigers scored on their next three shots to seal the victory. Burns scored first in the second round. Kelsey Gulledge also scored after a foul on her first attempt gave her another chance. Gulledge then dribbled around the goalie and tapped the ball in. After another save by Pujade, her third of the shootout, the Tigers put the game away with a gold from Campos as the sophomore used the same moves as Gulledge to dribble around the goalie and fire a shot into the empty net for the final strike.
The Tigers will next play this Friday at 6:00 pm at Stanford. After that, Pacific heads to Albany, New York for the America East Conference Tournament beginning next week.
Make sure to follow Pacific field hockey on Twitter with the username @PacificTigersFH and on Instagram at pacifictigersfh.